Making sure you’re up to date with the latest legislation is key to ensuring your business is in line with the law. Plus, being prepared helps you avoid employee claims and WRC orders to pay huge sums in compensation.
In this blog, we’ll take you through some of the most important employment law updates you need to know to protect your business and your people in 2024.
The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023
The highly anticipated Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023 was signed into law this year.
The Act makes five important changes to employment law that will come into effect during 2024 with a couple already in force, so let’s break the first two down for you…
It aims to support better work-life balance for all employees, with a focus on employees with family and caring duties and victims of domestic abuse. The Right to Request Remote Working Arrangements.
• As a result of the Act, all employees will be entitled to request remote working arrangements and those requests must be processed promptly and transparently.
Breakdown of the law:
- Employees can request remote working after six months of service
- Employees must submit a request eight weeks before the proposed start date
- You must provide reasons before rejecting requests and put the rejection in writing
- After receiving a request, you must consider the employee’s needs, the business’s needs, and the requirements of a WRC Code of Practice
- Employees are protected from penalties if they use their right to make a request
- You must respond to a request made within four weeks, with a possible extension to eight weeks
- You may terminate a remote working arrangement if it has adverse effects on your business
Key impacts for you:
- As attitudes towards remote working continue to shift, you must prioritise getting your approach right.
- With the rise of hybrid working models and the competitive advantage that remote working offers, it’s important you take the necessary steps to ensure your policies and practices reflect the changing landscape.
- To prepare for this change, you should review your remote working policies and provide training for managers on how to handle requests.
- You should also plan communication strategies to inform staff of any changes and prepare yourself for negotiations with employees who want to change their working patterns.
What’s the timeline for this change?
- The Act has been signed into law on 4 April 2023 and is expected to come into effect during 2024.
The Right to Request Flexible Working Arrangements (Parents and Carers)
- Under the Act, employees who are parents and carers will have the right to ask for a flexible work schedule to take care of a child, spouse, civil partner, cohabitant, parent, grandparent, sibling, or any other person who shares the same household.
- The criteria for requesting a flexible work schedule for caregiving purposes is the same as those for requesting remote work. Breakdown of the new law
- Eligible employees can request flexible working after six months of service
- Employees who have a child up to the age of 12 can make a request for flexible working (or 16 if the child has a disability or long-term illness)
- Employees who care for a dependant who needs significant care or support for a serious medical reason can make a request
- You must follow the same approval and refusal process for remote work requests Key impacts for you Similar to preparing for the change to the right to request remote working, you will need to include this new right of request in your policies and procedures.
- So, you should start to think about developing new policies or enhancing your existing policies.
- Also, keep your eyes peeled for the Workplace Relations Commission’s Code of Practice on flexible and remote working requests, to make sure you are in line with the law.
What’s the timeline for this change?
- The Act was signed into law on 4 April 2023 and is expected to come into effect during 2024.
Want to find out what else is included in The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act and what’s on the horizon for 2024? Download our full in-depth guide for FREE and get essential advice as well as resources to help you stay informed and get ahead of major changes.